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Issue #056 - Too Many Theories, Too Much Confusion
November 21, 2011
Kendo for LIFE
Kendo-Guide.Com Newsletter, Issue #056 - Too Many Theories, Too Much Confusion
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Too many theories, Too much confusion
A few weeks ago, I had a great conversation with my student. He used to come to the dōjō I teach regularly but he had to move to this town because of his university.
Our conversation started like this.
We were doing bokuto kihon-ho. I fixed his strikes here and there and he asked me some questions. That is because what I told him to do was different from his current instructors.
It is very understandable. There are many theories and different ways of teaching kendo. Of course it is very confusing especially for beginners like him who has been doing kendo for about a year.
What was more confusing for him was that even simple strike such as the basic men strike could be different. I felt really sorry for him. So I told them that he should stick to his current instructors. Assuming that his instructors can teach him good basics… That is all we want.
Oh! You don't teach techniques?
And then he was asking me about techniques. And I answered him that I didn't really teach techniques. He looked surprised and said, “Oh! You don't teach techniques?”
This may be very hard to believe for many people but when I was a kid my teachers didn't teach me any techniques. I didn't even learn how to execute small strikes. All I learned was the basics.
So my theory is that if we learn the basics thoroughly, we don’t have to learn techniques. We should be able to study techniques by observing others. Because that's what I did and so did the other students around me.
Of course this takes a long time to learn because you have to learn the basics at least for five years. Could be more or could be less, depending on how fast one can learn. So basically I don't really teach techniques, assuming that my students will continue kendo for the rest of their lives.
But this student wanted to learn techniques because he wanted to win in shiai. Who doesn't? He thought if he could execute smaller strikes, he could easily win. That is true. Small strikes increase his possibilities to win.
I showed him how to execute small men. But if we don’t have good basics we cannot learn techniques well, because we don’t have good FOUNDATION.
Then I realised that we have to use the word, fundamental, not the basics.
The basics gives an impression that it is only for beginners…
So we should use kendō fundamental movements. That way, students do not misunderstand the word, basics.
I really do feel sorry for him. He was so confused and puzzled. I can see why and it made me think that it would not take long for kendō to have two different types; kendō that sticks to the principle of katana and kendō that teaches how to control shinai.
There have been but I feel like there will be a clear line between two types. I don’t know what course kendō will take but my concern is people start thinking that traditional kendō is unattractive because the traditional kendō won’t give them a quick fix/result they want.
As an instructor and kendoist, I really should train hard to become a good kendoist so I can keep what I learned from my senseis and pass it onto the next generation.
Now Enjoy the Update!
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